The delay of Daylight Savings is another strange intervention of government that seems purposefully ineffective. Seeking to power down the nation (or the 48/50ths of us that participate in Daylight Savings) and ostensibly relieve the pressure and cost of winter utilities, the changing of clocks was pushed back another few weeks yet last year.
The result is that I get out of bed at my usual time and it’s pitch black. I need a lamp to see by (believe it or not the Blackberry screen is not much of a flashlight.) It’s neat to conceive that this, in fact, is a microcosm of what it would be like without Daylight Savings at all. If only we just accepted shorter days, turned on lights or stumbled around in the dark, all the usual things that we habituate at nighttime anyway. Is that really so tragic?
I have never been a big fan of government intervention. Government decision-making is too politicized (duh) dumbed down by corporate interests, greed and vanity and often the result of needless compromise instead of authority. I don’t doubt that some government decisions are in the best interests of the common good, even when the results seem less obviously so. But the net effect is a sustained period of darkness when we were doing just fine before the change.
It’s cliche to say “leave well enough alone” but it turns out that is how I like my government. I’m not going to further belittle the usefulness of government by dragging out the analogy because it is not without utility. But it is worth suggesting that there are any number of enacted laws that could be mitigated by common sense and don’t need a law to make the point. Seatbelt requirements are one example. Nobody would argue the efficacy of seatbelts but that you should choose not to wear one, notwithstanding the legality of it, seems perfectly reasonable.
One purpose of government is to define the common good and enforce it, but these tasks should be done responsibly. It seems like by embracing a government that micromanages our lives, we have lost sight of the responsibility that the role of government entails. Furthermore, and vastly troublesome, this type of national management has eroded our ability to self-manage and encouraged many people to defer responsibility for their personal decisions to some conglomerate entity of the United States.
The irony is that my analogy has some holes in it since it was government intervention in the first place that enacted Daylight Savings (and furthermore, it’s not mandatory that states participate,) but I think it is still a good illustration that it is not always inherently useful to require the government to govern us down to every little detail. We managed just fine with some “extra” weeks of standard time, so in the end, what exactly did we gain when Daylight Savings got extended? Perhaps, as citizens, we should ask that question more often, not just about the time change, and encourage our leaders to do the same. Perhaps next time, to do so before they rush to action and put something into law.